NEIL REDFEARN admits he has a welcome selection headache ahead of Leeds United’s crunch Roses battle at Bolton Wanderers – following the displays of a number of fringe players in the FA Cup loss at Sunderland.
United may have bowed out at the third-round stage of the cup for the fourth time in five seasons, but head coach Redfearn was left enthused by the performances of the likes of Casper Sloth, Luke Murphy, Brian Montenegro and Charlie Taylor, handed rare starts at the Stadium of Light.
All offered him food for thought ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Macron Stadium, with United, who have lost five of their last six matches and have not scored in open play in almost nine hours, in major need of a result to secure some much-needed respite after tumbling towards the Championship relegation zone.
Redfearn said: “The players who have been out of the side have got to think about playing well to stay in or get in. I have a good headache for the weekend.
“The good thing is that we have had players come in who have performed really well who have been out of the picture and it adds to the competition.”
Sunday saw United make a positive switch of formation from a diamond system to a 4-2-3-1 line-up where the emphasis was on providing more width and for Redfearn, it is very much a case of diamonds not being forever.
He added: “The good thing was that we played with some width. We have not been able to play with any width (recently) and looked better and brighter with more solid defending and inventiveness coming out from wide and coming across the line.
“Maybe the overriding thing is that we have now got an option where we can play with width. I thought Casper Sloth was really good. He played in that position against Huddersfield and did really well.
“For whatever reason, he has been out of the picture. But he has taken his chance and it is all about players taking their chance, who come in.
“Some of these lads have had their noses pushed out of joint for a while. But we have been right with them, and they have trained hard and I said to them that it was an opportunity to play well and I thought they did.
“It is important you look at all of your options and don’t get narrowed off in your thinking.
“We have had a little bit of a renaissance with the diamond. But then it has needed some help and some players coming in. If players coming in and a change of faces is the ‘change’, then so be it.
“Sometimes, you have to freshen things up during the course of a season. Things got us so far and had a shelf life and we are trying to getting stability with youth and overseas professionals. We have got a real eclectic mix.
“You are trying to get stability with that and sometimes, you have to think about changing it again to something different.
While Redfearn is not ruling out the likes of Sloth and Murphy enjoying a renaissance, equally he feels Leeds also need ‘two or three’ new signings to boost their existing options.
He has made recommendations to president Massimo Cellino about several English players who he feels would aid the club - with the transfer window now open and several players also expected to leave in a busy month of activity.
United are in talks with Inter Milan’s Slovenian midfielder Rene Krhin and Sassuolo forward Leonardo Pavoletti, with the latter also reportedly wanted by Cagliari.
They have also been credited with interest in Huddersfield Town’s out-of-favour winger Danny Ward, a player well known to Redfearn’s number two Steve Thompson.
Another name linked is Bulgarian forward Andrey Galabinov, who played for Serie B outfit Livorno.
Redfearn said: “I have spoken to Massimo and mentioned the British based players who would help us.
“He has also got his ideas with the people he thinks might help us.”